CORNELIUS – Gov. Pat McCrory came to Cornelius on July 26 to sign Senate Bill 159, aimed at correcting the botched 2011 property revaluation in Mecklenburg County.
The 2011 reval saw tens of thousands of appeals by homeowners who felt, or knew, that their property had been grossly overvalued by the county’s tax assessor’s office.
McCrory praised former Cornelius Mayor and State Sen. Jeff Tarte for his work in sponsoring the bill that unanimously passed both the House (HB 200) and Senate in mid-July.
“(Jeff Tarte) brought a mayor’s attitude to Raleigh and said ‘let's get going, let's cut through the bureaucratic roadblocks and see what we can do … We need to do this over again,’” McCrory said. “When we do it over again, if they miscounted, if they overcharged … you ought to get your money back.”
Other Mecklenburg County representatives, including Sen. Bob Rucho and Reps. William Brawley and Tricia Ann Cotham, were primary sponsors of the bill.
The bill mandates that the county conduct a reappraisal using one person per 4,250 parcels within 18 months or hire a qualified company to assess the property values.
Homeowners expecting to get a quick refund may end up waiting for that money until 2015.
Sen. Jeff Tarte said that it could take up to four years from 2011 to get a full refund.
“So sit tight, because it’s like hitting the lottery a little bit,” Tarte said. “But the beauty is that they get 5 percent interest, so it’s probably better than if you had been investing in the market for the last couple years. It’s a great investment, you just didn’t know it.”
Tarte said an estimated 30 percent of people will be eligible for refunds based on the initial studies completed by Pearson’s Appraisal earlier this year.
On the flip side, as many as 5 to 8 percent of properties were undervalued and owners will end up paying more in taxes.
“It’s going to be all over the board in all neighborhoods,” Tarte told reporters. “We’ve got people from The Peninsula in Cornelius to Villa Heights in Charlotte. They have the same thing. Proportionally, it shouldn’t be off, but the values are different, whether it’s a $60,000 home or a $600,000 home.”
Tarte said the first step in making sure the errors are corrected for this and every revaluation moving forward is to fix the database where property values are stored.
“This started out as a grassroots effort by one person. It didn’t start with the elected officials in Raleigh or Washington D.C.,” McCrory said. “It started by people doing their homework and then being respectful and showing their leaders that there is something wrong. What’s even more unique about this situation is the new leadership stepped up in the county … They actually said, ‘You know what? The grassroots people might have a point here.’”
The one person McCrory was speaking about was Cornelius resident Bob Deaton.
Deaton started digging through the county database after he noticed an unreasonable jump in his property tax.
“At that time, I was seeing a lot, but nothing what I ended up uncovering,” Deaton said. “I was having difficulty getting people to believe that there was something wrong. It took some work and many, many an hour of walking the shoreline and looking at properties and their information. It’s paid off.
Locals gather to protest McCrory
About 100 protestors gathered outside Cornelius Town Hall to meet the governor.
Their signs read messages like “Keep your promises Pat” and “Voter suppression is anti-American.”
“We’ve had it and I had this sometimes during my tenure as mayor,” McCrory said about the protests. “I had a few occasions where I had this with very high emotional issues. Some of it is well organized and I think some of the people aren’t telling all the facts, including the media. I heard some of the things being shouted to me and I don’t think they’ve read the bills.”
While waiting for McCrory to leave, protestors stopped elected officials like Rep. Charles Jeter and Tarte questions about voting and abortion legislation.
The vast majority of the group did not get a chance to speak with the governor.
Want to Learn more?
Bobbie Shields, interim Mecklenburg County tax assessor and acting county manager, and his staff will give an update concerning the county's plan to address the revaluation bill at 6 p.m. Aug. 5 at Cornelius Town Hall.